If you have any original airchecks on cassette,
please send them to me now. If I don't receive any soon, I may get
rid of my
last cassette deck.
I was one of the first people in Houston to own
an audio cassette machine and carry it around. This was so far back
that if you played it in public, everyone assumed it was a radio.
I was once listening to a cassette of Sgt. Pepper
on a city bus. This was decades before iPods. It was even before the Sony
Walkman, so I was listening through a speaker. I don't recommend that
you do that on a bus today.
Some high school girls, only slightly younger than
me at the time, recognized the music. One of them exclaimed, "They
are playing the whole album!" The "they" in the statement
meant whatever radio station I was playing.
They didn't realize that I controlled the horizontal,
I controlled the vertical, and I controlled the audio. Music was moving
into the outer limits of portability.
Eventually, I owned hundreds of cassettes, most
of them spoken word recordings ranging from poetry to business management.
Starting in 2004, I copied all of my cassettes to
mp3. The oldest educational cassettes had been around since 1972. All
my cassette recordings now fit on a single hard drive. The physical cassettes
have been physically cleared out of the room.
My current car doesn't have a cassette player. If
I want to listen to material from a cassette, I have to burn the recording
to an mp3 CD. The audio cassette format seems to have had its day.
I don't like having a lot of unused equipment gathering
dust. That's why I just sold my darkroom enlarger and Kodak Carousel slide
projector. It was clear that those items where part of my photographic
past, but not part of my future.
I used Craig's List for the first time. It was great
to be able to sell things without risking money on ads which might not
The last time anyone sent me a
new aircheck on cassette was in 2007. Are there any more out there? Please
send them now while I am still set up to copy cassettes myself.
Of course, I am also accepting reel to reel tapes,
but I have to dub them at the nearby home studio of a former program director.
Although this web site has a reputation for being about Houston
radio in the sixties, there is no set cut off date on either end
of the period covered.
The most recently recorded item is a KNUZ oldies format aircheck
from 1991. I also have a good amount of New Wave era material from
Actually, the early 60's are woefully underrepresented here.
Only a very few items were recorded before October, 1964.
I am asking for more Houston radio material from the 60's, especially
the first half of the decade. Top 40 recordings are welcome, particularly
if they are unscoped recordings not previously heard on the internet.
I also want to make a special appeal for adult format materials
from the early and mid 60's.
That would include such AM stations as KXYZ, KODA, KPRC, KTRH,
and KTHT (Demand Radio 79) plus all the Houston FM stations of
I am asking you to think about about what old reel to reel tapes
you may know about. Those materials may be gathering dust in someone's
attic. They may be about to be thrown into the proverbial (and
literal) dust bin of history.
That is what will happen to those tapes if someone dies and the
person in charge of the estate fails to understand their historical
interest. If you own those tapes yourself, the person to whom
I just alluded who will hypothetically die someday is you.
The first black and white image below is from the
summer of 1980, and it is the first 35mm picture I ever took in Galveston.
It was one of the hottest summers ever experienced
in the Houston area. The temperature was going up to about 104 every day.
In fact, there was a nationwide heat wave -- I still have a Life magazine
with a blazing sun on the cover.
At that point, I wasn't a regular visitor to Galveston
and had not been there for several years. A friend talked me into going
down on a weekday. We went to East Beach and discovered two ladies who
had found their own way of dealing with the heat.
I had just bought my first 35mm camera, and I barely
knew how to use it. I was just playing around with photography at that
point, and I didn't even keep the negative for this picture.
Notice the convenient plug for Igloo coolers.
The last time I checked, they were still being made in Houston.
I still use one I bought in 1984.
photo below is adapted
from a slide shot in Galveston in 1980. The arrow, which pointed
to the 61st Street fishing pier, is no longer there. Hurricane Alicia
may have destroyed it in 1983. This arrow image is the emblem for
all of The Vasthead web pages.
Image on right: The Galveston Buccaneer Hotel
on a foggy afternoon early in 1981. Click for a full view.
Above: The Galveston seawall, a summer
Sunday at dawn in 1982.
Above: The Flagship Hotel in December, 1980.
The hotel long served as a dividing point for the Galveston
seawall, the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. Hurricane Ike gutted the hotel in 2008. In 2012, the pier became the Pleasure Pier amusement park, a revival of a role it held before the hotel opened in 1965.
Below: Skaters take babes in arms along for the ride
in 1981. Don't try this yourself. Visible through the lifting fog is the
Buccaneer Hotel, demolished on New Year's Day, 1999.
Above: November, 1980. It's twilight and time to
return the skates after an afternoon on the Galveston seawall. Below:
The same two skaters a moment later. This time, they knew they were being
For the benefit of people who live out of Texas or who don’t remember the days of real radio…
From the 50’s to the 80’s, KILT was one of the most influential radio stations in the nation, creatively and constantly re-inventing the top 40 music format.
By the early 80’s KILT was searching for a new identity as FM rivals eroded KILT’s stranglehold on the rock and roll audience. On June 1, 1981, KILT changed to country, a format still heard on KILT-FM, 100.3. The original KILT (610 AM) is now an all sports outlet.
Long-time KILT newsman Robert B. McEntire sent us this recording of the exact moment when KILT switched to country.
What was KILT like just before the changeover? Thank you for asking... On March 25, 1980, I just happened to record a few hours of KILT in the twilight of its Top 40 era…
this site If you don't want your name to be used or an email to be quoted, please
state that at the beginning of your message.
Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and photography
on this site are by Grady McAllister.
No Shock and Awe Frenzy! Some points to ponder before writing to this web site...
1, The purpose of this web site is to receive radio recordings from people, mainly material that has not been widely heard before. It is not the purpose of this site to take requests for airchecks or to find specific airchecks for people. This is not the Aircheck Factory Warehouse.
2. The only airchecks available from this site are the ones that are already on line.
All the aircheck pages are listed in the upper left of each radio page. If you don't see an aircheck of your dad, your brother, your ex-wife, or whoever else you are seeking, I don't have it. I don't consider airchecks a major hobby, and that is why you see only a limited amount of material.
I like having a web site that looks good and is well written. That means a lot more to me than
having airchecks piled higher and deeper than everybody else. I am not interested in making wholesale downloads from other sites just to have every Houston aircheck on the planet.
3. Messages which complain that a particular DJ is "missing" from this site will be ignored.
If such an aircheck even exists, the only way I could get it would be to download it or buy it from another web site. That is not what I am here for. This is not the Open-All-Night, Worldwide, Web-Wide, Clearinghouse for All DJ Recordings.
4. Please don't send images such as pictures of DJ's or scans of music survey sheets. You may, however, put those items on our Facebook page.
5. If you really want an answer to a question, you need to expose it to a wide audience. Sending it to me in an email is not the way to do that. Please place your questions on our Facebook page. That way anyone can respond who knows the answer.
6. Most of the airchecks we receive fall into the top 40 category. However, during the period we cover—the 60's in particular—there were other popular formats which have all but disappeared.
They included classical, MOR, jazz, and beautiful music. I am also thinking of the early versions of adult contemporary, news and talk, album rock, and country. We would like to uncover more recordings in those categories. My personal favorite is the KXYZ beautiful music format which ran during most of the 60's.
This is a place where a select number of air checks appear on line, are written about, and are given their proper place in Houston radio history.
This site started as a place for recordings I had made myself. Later, people sent me other airchecks. The emphasis was always on recordings that had never been heard on the internet, not on materials available on other web sites.
I'll be glad to make an exception if the air personality himself sends me a recording. I will use it even if it is already on another site.
Nonetheless, the main search is for airchecks that have not been widely heard. Also, they must be connected in some way to the Houston area.
The Free Corps of Free Lance Advisors: "You gotta believe we wuz groovy babies back in the day!"
Every now and then, I am contacted by the Free Corps of Free Lance Advisors. They want the world, and they want it yesterday. They love to "suggest" something that is well beyond the scope of this web site.
For one thing, it is not the mission of this site to set up web page shrines to particular DJ's. One advisor sent a "request" that I set up a separate Facebook page to pay tribute his favorite '60's night jock. He claimed to be a web technology expert, but for some reason he expected me to do this for him.
There are aging teenagers out there who expect me to slip into a Shock and Awe Frenzy at the mere mention of a 60's DJ.
Their attitude is something like this:
"Let's all party like it's 1969! You gotta believe we wuz groovy babies back in the day, so you had better get excited and come up with exactly what we want!
"Your mission (whether or not you choose to accept it) is to turn this radio site into whatever we tell you to. If you don't, we will tell the world your web site isn't worth a [characterization deleted]!"
They think this site is the Super Quickie, Just-in-Time Delivery, Aircheck Order Window.
They think that since I have some airchecks, I wallow in airchecks day and night. They think I should drop everything to devote a little more thought to their Boss Jock of All Time.
In the case I just mentioned, the importunate emails became more and more insistent and downright abrasive. I had to bar him from my existing Facebook page.
That kind of advisor I can do without. The fact is I have plenty of ideas of my own which I have not found time to implement.
Another person wrote to ask for a recording of a rap artist from the 90's. Anyone who has really looked at this site knows it is not the place for rap.
That is really the crux of the problem: People write wanting this or that without taking a good look at what is already here or at my explanation of why the site exists.
For more information about this main radio site, go to this page:
This radio Facebook page is open to the public. In other words, you don't have to be approved for a 'friend" list in order to comment. All you need is your own Facebook account.
If you have a comment about radio, a question
about airchecks, or a request for a particular kind of aircheck, please
place your remarks on our public
Or, A typical aircheck request: "Could
you possibly find more of these and put them on your site? That would
be so groovy, man...LOL"
— from an April 27, 2010, email
Somebody has been watching too many Austin Powers
The above message complained that this site has only
short "snippets" of KILT in the 70's. That's quite a shame,
I am going to explain the aircheck situation one
This page began just as a place to list my own recordings
of radio stations. Later on, other people made contributions, but this
site was never intended to be the Listener's Clearinghouse for All Airchecks.
It takes quite a bit of time just managing the current
collection. I am not in the business of finding specific additional
airchecks for people. The reasons are thoroughly explained on the FAQ
If you have something to contribute, fine, but don't expect
me to locate new airchecks for you.
If you would like to make a public appeal for a specific
type of recording, you should place it directly on our public
Do not request an aircheck in an email to me.
Everything I have to offer is already on line, so what is the point in
asking for what I obviously don't have?
Don't write just to complain about what isn't here.
I am not here to apologize for what I don't have.
I set up the public
Facebook page so people would have a place to appeal for airchecks,
ask questions, and express opinions.
However, questions about who was morning drive in what year and
general rants will probably be referred back to the Facebook page.
Do not for any reason send me an email reading:
"I used to love listening to
Big Harry's Top Ten. Why don't you have any Big Harry tapes?
What's wrong with you?"
I have set up the Facebook forum for a very selfish reason: I
don't like dealing with questions like the one in the above example.
How this web site is organized
This radio section grew to the point where had to be split into
more than one page. The new pages are listed toward the top left.
No system of classification is perfect, and once you put a station
into a category there can be some misleading implications. KILT
won't be listed as an adult format, but it was not just for teenagers.
It mainly aimed for ages 18-35.
On the other hand, some teenagers listened to the KXYZ beautiful
music format in the 60's. I was one of them.
Here is the question I use to separate the adult formats from
the not so adult formats:
"Is this a station which a young punk would put
In the 60's and 70's, a young punk would have listened to KILT
and KLOL, but he would not have put up with KPRC, KODA, or KYND.
I listened to all those stations, including the ones that a young
punk would have laughed at. I was young but I was never a young
punk. (I credit the Alex Bennett recordings for teaching me the
usefulness of the phrase "young punk.")
There will also be overlapping categories. The Alex Bennett group
is big enough to rate a separate section. Yet among his material
you can find entire recordings which are the regular KILT music
programming, not just the talk shows you expect.
You also find the opposite situation: A talk show on page devoted
mainly to DJ's. The Beau Weaver talk show follows the Captain
Jack DJ materials on the Mainly 80's page. That is because I didn't
want to break up my "Night in the Life of KILT" set.
There are also newscasts embedded within talk shows and music
shows. I hope to eventually copy all of the newscasts and list
them separately on the news and public affairs page.
This home page is the one you should mark in your browser. The
specialized radio pages will undergo additional reorganization
and renaming, so always begin your visit here.
wander onto another part of VASTHEAD.COM, you can return to this
radio home page by using the cyan colored link marked "Houston
Houston Retro Radio is hosted as part of VASTHEAD.COM,
a web site which has been on line since 1997. You can also access
this page directly by going to
If you don't want your name to be used, or for an email to be
quoted, please state that at the beginning of your message
All writing, including my own, is subject to continual revision
to better meet the current needs this site. In some cases, an
incoming message may be rewritten slightly to improve clarity
or to conform to generally accepted editing practice (for example,
not beginning a sentence with a numeral).
write to me if you notice any typographical errors,
bad links, skipping mp3 files, or any other problems in these
There is little point in writing to me seeking
a specific aircheck. Nearly everything is already here.
The above recordings are archived for their historical value
to researchers. They may not be used for any commercial purpose.
The material is made available under U.S.C.
Title 17 Section 107. Any given item may be covered
under international copyright law even if no copyright notice